Barclays CEO to keep control of investment arm
Technology arms race means there will be growth but it will be slow, says Jes Staley
London — Barclays is sticking to a strategy that keeps CEO Jes Staley in charge of its closely scrutinised investment bank after a tumultuous 12 months.
Staley has “a more direct line of sight” into the unit with three senior bankers on the executive committee, he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. He took direct control of that business after Tim Throsby’s departure and has been seeking to cut costs in a bid to better compete with Wall Street peers.
“I think we’ll keep the organisational structure that we have for now,” he said at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
Despite months of persistent pressure from activist investor Edward Bramson, the British bank’s overall direction “is pretty well set — people buy into it, the shareholders buy into it, our performance is demonstrating the wisdom of that universal bank strategy”, he said.
The CEO also expects little movement across the European banking landscape. “Every major bank is in a technology arms race” rather than focused on mergers, he said. “I’ve lived through two of them — they’re really tough, and most often they destroy more value than they create.”
After attending the business leaders’ dinner with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Staley said corporations are broadly optimistic on economic growth for the next couple of years. “It may be slow, or slower, in places like China and Germany, but there’s economic growth out there, so there’s reason to invest and there’s reason to be more optimistic than businesses were last year.”
Still, Staley said that any interest rate shocks would be felt in the plentiful credit supply. “When you have zero interest rates, almost by definition you are going to have asset bubbles,” he said. “You want to ride that wave while it’s happening but you want to keep your eyes wide open when there is a correction.”